Boxing

No love lost, says Tommy McCarthy ahead of clash with Shane McGuigan fighter Chris Billam-Smith

Tommy McCarthy defended his European Super-Bantamweight title against Alexandru Jur on Saturday night. Picture: Dave Thompson Matchroom Boxing
Andy Watters

TOMMY McCarthy says there is “no love lost” between himself and the McGuigan family and so Belfast’s European cruiserweight champion is relishing the opportunity to beat Shane McGuigan-trained Chris Billam-Smith and win the British, European and Commonwealth titles in July.

McCarthy’s strained relationship with the McGuigans dates back to the days when his long-term friends Anthony Cacace, Conrad Cummings and Carl Frampton were part of the Cyclone Promotions stable in London.

Now, after the Lenadoon native defended his European belt with arguably the best performance of his career against Alexandru Jur last Saturday night, McCarthy has his sights trained on a grudge match against 12-1 Billam-Smith AKA ‘The Gentleman’.

“I wanted to the world title but this is the final hurdle I have to jump over to get to that,” said McCarthy.

“I just have to take care of business again and then I get the big one.

“There’s no love lost between me and the McGuigan camp and Billam Smith had always been very respectful when he was talking about me over the last year but then in recent weeks he’s been being cheeky.

“It just annoyed me a bit. I’m not emotional about it but I just have to put him back in his place. I’ve got a couple of months to get ready for it and I’ll just carry on the momentum. I’ll have a week off and then get back at it.

“I’ll up the training again and we’ll deal with Billam-Smith the same way I dealt with Jur. Pete (Taylor, his coach) knows what to do and I’m looking forward to it – it’s another big opportunity and I’m buzzing for it.”

A left hook to the body had defensively-minded Romanian Jur down in the fourth on Saturday night and McCarthy finished the job in sixth. Afterwards Matchroom boss Eddie Hearn confirmed that the contracts had been signed for the Billam-Smith rumble.

“I couldn’t have asked for it (Saturday night) to go better,” said McCarthy.

“We were expecting Jur to produce a career-best performance because he had flown in a couple of quality sparring partners and it looked like he had a really good camp. He was full of confidence and I was prepared for him to give me a tough test but I just took it away from him in the first round.

“Anything that he planned on doing, I just took it down and took control of the contest straight away.”

TYSON Fury has vowed to "smash Anthony Joshua on the biggest stage of all time" after confirming their long-awaited all-British showdown would go ahead this summer.

The pair will contest all four world heavyweight titles for the first time in the sport's history when they meet on August 14 in Saudi Arabia.

In a video posted on social media on Sunday evening, 32-year-old WBC champion Fury said: "I have got some massive news. I have just got off the phone with Prince Khalid of Saudi Arabia and he told me this fight is 100 per cent on, August 14.

"All eyes of the world will be on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

"I cannot wait, I repeat, cannot wait to smash Anthony Joshua on the biggest stage of all time.

"This is going to be the biggest sporting event ever to grace the planet Earth. Do not miss it."

Joshua, a year younger than Fury, holds the WBA, WBO and IBF belts.

Plans for a fight between the pair were set in motion when Fury defeated Deontay Wilder to capture the WBC title in February last year, just a couple of months after Joshua avenged his only career loss to Andy Ruiz Jr, a fight which was also staged in Saudi Arabia, at the Diriyah Arena.

Joshua retained his three belts last December with a ninth-round knockout of mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev, but the unbeaten Fury's planned trilogy fight against Wilder has failed to materialise.

A proposed homecoming against Agit Kabayel in December was scotched, meaning Fury, who proclaims himself as the lineal champion in the division, has not fought in more than 14 months since stopping Wilder in Las Vegas.

JOSH Taylor admitted even he has been taken aback at how quickly his career has advanced as he looks to become the first Briton in the four-belt era to become undisputed world champion in just his 18th professional fight.

Hopes were high when the Scot switched to the paid ranks a year after claiming gold at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and he has established himself as one of the finest fighters in the UK by unifying the light-welterweight division.

Taylor, who holds the WBA and IBF titles, can further enhance his reputation when he takes on WBC and WBO champion Jose Ramirez on Saturday night, with the opportunity to make history not lost on the 'Tartan Tornado'.

The 30-year-old explained: "I always thought I would become world champion but the prospect of becoming undisputed champion was maybe a little bit too farfetched.

"Those undisputed fights are very few and far between these days and it's just a dream come true, it's a massive fight. I didn't think I'd be fighting to become undisputed world champion and certainly not as quickly as this.

"If I pull this win off, which I believe I'm 100 per cent going to do, achievement-wise it's going to be up there with the best of them. It would be a massive achievement to cement my name and legacy in the history books."

Taylor's last five opponents - Viktor Postol, Ryan Martin, Ivan Baranchyk, Regis Prograis and Apinun Khongsong - had a combined record of 110 victories and just one defeat prior to facing the Prestonpans fighter.

In Ramirez, Taylor (17-0, 13KOs) is taking on his fifth successive unbeaten opponent and victory this weekend would not only add to an already glowing CV but boost his standing in boxing's mythical pound-for-pound list.

He is ranked ninth by the prestigious Ring Magazine, but Taylor said: "I'm not going to lose sleep about what number I'm at on pound-for-pound lists, it doesn't really mean anything to me.

"As long as I am winning my fights and keeping my belts that's all that matters. I let my results in the ring do the talking. I'm not in the game to be recognised but the recognition is starting to come now and deservedly so.

"I've had the chance during lockdown to reflect back on my achievements and I am super proud. It's massive, it's huge. I am proud of what I've done but it's time to keep moving forward and setting new goals."

While Taylor took out hard-hitting Thai fighter Khongsong last September inside a round, Ramirez (26-0, 17KOs) was pushed to his limits by Postol last August before the American recorded a majority decision win.

Before showing off his full range in stopping Maurice Hooker in July 2019, Ramirez laboured against Jose Zepeda five months earlier before squeaking through on points and Taylor is buoyed by his rival's recent struggles.

Taylor, who himself was tested by Postol in June 2018 before dropping the Ukrainian en route to a wide points win, said of Ramirez: "He's a great, come forward, pressure fighter.

"He attacks the body and head well and punches in bunches. It has the makings of a good fight but I see a lot of things in his game that I can exploit.

"I don't think he has fought the same level of opponent as myself in his career.

"He's only boxed Maurice Hooker. He boxed Jose Zepeda and was very lucky to get away with the decision, he was very lucky to get away with the decision against Viktor Postol as well. I've not been too impressed with his form."

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